The most powerful TED talk I’ve watched, was given by a 7 year old…
Molly Wright makes her way across the TED stage and begins…
Molly is not your typical 7 year old.
She is a prime example of what happens when a child’s brain development is nurtured through the early years.
Not only is she a prime example, she’s also an advocate for healthy childhood development.
I learned more from this 7 year old in 7 minutes, than I did reading over 100 books (written by adults) about children and their brains.
When kids are exposed to things like…
A Healthy Home
A Sense of Community
… it contributes positively to their development.
Connecting with our family and community builds and strengthens relationships, encourages trust, promotes positive mental health, and teaches life skills.
I’m sure we can wait until kids are older to start teaching them these skills though, right?
So… When should we be connecting, playing and talking to our kids?
#1. First 5 Years!
Molly reminds us that these years of a child’s life are the most CRUCIAL years in their development.
Brains grow faster in the first 5 years than they do the rest of our lives. By the time kids are 7 years old, their brains have grown to 90% the size of an adults’ brain.
Do not underestimate those first 5 years…
So… What should we be doing those first 5 years?
#2. Serve and Return!
This is Molly’s scientific way of saying… CONNECT! TALK! PLAY!
Children’s mirror neurons are on alert! They learn through connecting and interacting with the adults they trust. Making eye contact and playing games with your child (yes, like peekaboo), are important for their development and for their learning!
So… How often should we be playing games like peekaboo?
#3. Early and Often!
Molly reinforces that we need to be playing these games and connecting with our child as often as we can, and as early as we can!!
Even a 1 year old is aware of the broken connection when our attention is diverted.
Diverted to technology… To our devices…
What would happen if we were distracted by our devices all the time?
When children are not receiving the positive interactions they need for healthy brain development, childhood becomes stressful – even traumatic.
It is harder for children to feel safe, to trust, and to regulate without connection…
Kids NEED positive relationships.
They need connection, to be spoken to, and played with.
They need a healthy and safe home.
To feel a part of a community.
And YOU have the opportunity to give them that.
So, thanks, Molly Wright (the smartest 7 year old I know), for reminding us that a game of peekaboo has the capacity to change the world…
Go do yourselves a favour and watch Molly speak right here!
All day long, you give away pieces of your self to others.
To the tiny humans who need your support. Your full-attention. And your love…
But do you ever take a fraction of a second to give back to yourself?
Like a Car.. You Just Can’t Run on Empty..
Listen, I’ve been there.
My students mean the world to me.. There is nothing that I wouldn’t do for them. As long as it means their protection. As long as they are loved.
But along the way, I forgot to stop and love myself…
Even though, I was aware of it, I thought burnout just couldn’t happen to me if everything I did was out of love.
But that wasn’t the case.
I’m human. You’re human too.
And as humans, we need to be filling up our fuel tanks constantly so we can keep on giving to others.
Sometimes, that means we need to give ourselves morethan others.
For humble educators: it’s a hard pill to swallow…
But it’s true.
I’ve spent the last few years learning this lesson the hard way.
And if I could go back in time now and have a conversation with the younger version of Miss T, I would tell her this:
#1. Don’t Bottle Things Up:
It’s easy to stuff our feelings, our exhaustion… And carry on for the sake of our students. But don’t.
Talk to people. To other teachers. Find a community. There is power in knowing you are not alone.
#2. Practice Self-Care:
There are no rules for self-care – it looks different for everyone.
Do things that nourish your soul, recharge your battery and foster sanity. This could mean writing in a gratitude journal, taking a bubble bath, going for a walk… Whatever it is, schedule time for YOU… Everyday!
Begin your morning with something for you, instead of immediately rushing off to take on the world.
#3. Take A Break:
There is strength in knowing when to step back. When to ask for help.
We pride ourselves in never having to call in sick or book a sub. But that’s not sustainable… Take the time you need to recharge.
Book a mental health day each month. Or apply for a short leave if you are in need of some ‘you-time’. Make it a reoccurring thing – like you’d make time to see your mechanic regularity.
There is a Good Chance you Already Know These Things, I Did Too…
But please, don’t let yourself hit burnout, like I did, before actually making some changes in your life.
It’s time to put yourself first.
You are human, after all.
Even the tiny humans in your life need you to love yourself.
Do you understand and feel what others are feeling?
All of my life, I have been able to quite literally, FEEL the feelings of others.
When someone is going through a rough time, or having a bad day, in my head, I can instantly see all of the things that happened to them that led up to this feeling… I can feel exactly what they are feeling. I understand them.
And that feeling of empathy is magnified when it comes to my students..
Working at my little Elementary School, I’d met a lot of kiddos with some sad stories… some very tough starts to life.
They expressed their sadness through anger and tears.
And I felt it… deeply… So much that it would physically hurt.
I often wondered why I had been given this curse of being an empath…
I feel too much. Every heart break, every traumatic experience…
But over time (and with the help of a fabulous read that I’ll share below!), I shifted my perspective…
I realize now that being an empath is not a curse, it’s a gift.
Almost like having a super power!
To be able to completely feel and understand where someone is coming from. As much as it has the capacity to hurt… It can also heal…
You can truly BE there for that human being- fully present for that human being…
And being there, in complete understanding, can mean the world to someone.
So, if you are an empath, like me. And you hurt and feel the pain of others on a daily basis, just know that you have a gift!
The world needs your empathetic super power! Now, more than ever.
Trust me, I know it hurts. I know how hard it can be…
BUT, can you imagine what the world would be like without people like you and me?
I envision a world of isolation.. Beings who go through the motions each day.. Being who lack understanding and compassion.
And that is not a world I want to live in.
Pain is hard, but I’ve learned that I’d rather feel pain if it means also feeling joy.
Especially if it means that I can make a difference to one little someone. Anyone who might need someone to understand…
So… calling all you empaths out there…
You have a gift! And the world needs that gift!
P.S. Embrace the hell out of your superpower!
5 Powerful Tips to Take Care of Your Empathic Self:
As an empath, it is necessary to recharge yourself on the daily. We can easily be drained of our energy from day to day just through our emotions and feelings.
Here are some simple things you can do to recharge your battery:
Start the day off doing something for YOU!
It’s common in society for people to wake up at the last possible moment before rushing off to work or school. We get right into our days doing something for someone else, but this doesn’t allow us any time for ourselves. And at the end of a tiring day, it’s even harder for us to expend more energy on ourselves. We get left out. But when you jump start the day by doing something for you, it changes everything! And that something could really be anything, anything that fuels your soul… What do you enjoy doing? Journaling? Reading? Meditating? Yoga or some exercise? Whatever it is, make sure it is something you LOVE to do. Otherwise getting up a tad bit earlier will feel like a chore. Make it so you are EXCITED to get out of bed in the morning!
Get some good sleep (and probably a little more than you are currently getting)
This one is a given. Sleep is necessary for us to feel recharged. When we sleep, our brain and bodily systems have a chance to rest and restore themselves. The problem is, we don’t often give ourselves as much sleep as we need. Sleep looks different for everyone, so I’m not about to prescribe a ‘one-size-fits-all’ amount. But ideally, you want a consistent sleeping pattern and a nice deep sleep. Hitting REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is so beneficial for our health! This is when we do most of our dreaming. REM sleep positively affects our moods, memory and brain development. Treating yourself to some deep REM sleep is a wonderful way to replenish your empathic self!
Unplug from Technology or go on a Tech Fast.
This one partially goes hand in hand with #2… Unplugging from all technology (yes, I’m talking about ALL screens- your phone, your tablet, even your tv!) 2 hours before bed will help you get to sleep quicker and have a deeper sleep. Also, there is value in going on a technology (or social media) detox. Being dependent on our technology can cause enough stress on its own- constantly feeling the NEED to respond right away, or comparing ourselves to instagram models… Taking some time apart from technology is freeing! Try a day or 2, or a week – you decide what you’re comfortable with. Don’t let it become stressful though or you’d be missing the point. Even setting some better limits on the amounts and time you use technology. Like: not using your phone first thing after you wake up, or limiting the amount of time you spend on social media on your phone. Unplugging from our technology every once in a while – however you choose to do it – is a gift.
Know your limits… and HONOUR them!
As an empath, sometimes saying no can be a hard thing to do. When your boss asks you to stay at work and earn some overtime, or a friend asks you to attend an event.. We empathize with them and easily cave in. Even if we are already running on empty… Awareness of this pattern is important because once you can spot it, you can start to say ‘no’ when you are feeling depleted. It’ll take some time building the ‘no’ muscle though, so don’t be too hard on yourself if at first you don’t succeed! To ease into it, don’t say ‘no’ right off the bat. Try saying things like “I’m not too sure, can I check my calendar at home and get back to you later?” Then, when you’ve had more time to process the priority of what you are being asked to do, you can get back to them with a confident “I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to make it this time! I have a prior commitment.” Being aware of your limitations and saying ‘no’ are crucial for all human beings! It’s impossible to pour from an empty cup.
Read books on Empaths! Especially THIS book: The Empath Experience: What to do When you Feel Everything by Sydney Campos
This book played a huge role in shifting my perspective from the empathic curse to the empathic gift. A friend of mine at work recommended it to me (I’m all about book recommendations so if you have any, send em’ my way!) and I am forever grateful to her for it. It definitely changed the way I viewed myself as an Empath. It allowed me to see my strengths instead of my weaknesses. I’ve been better able to deal with tough situations and tragedies because of it. Not that it means I don’t get affected by sadness anymore, but my awareness allows me to shift my thinking to seeing the opportunity… the opportunity I have to help.. And to make a difference. And that’s all most of us ever want to do… is make a difference…
Remember: Self-care is not selfish, it is essential!
mindfulness, in essence, is our natural state of being; it is living in and embracing the present moment.
It releases us from all those swirling thoughts in our heads, and brings our focus into the now.
Don’t get me wrong, I know it is an extremely simple concept but it can seem complicated and hold more weight than it seems!
There are even a ton of benefits from incorporating mindfulness practices into your life. Some, you may haven’t even realized.
Yes, Mindfulness is bringing awareness to what is going on around you. And of course, focusing on the world around you brings you out of your own head and reduces anxious and fearful thoughts.
But what else does mindfulness do?
I want to introduce a new term to you (maybe you’ve heard this one before… it’s quite the mouthful!).. It may help you understand the power that lies behind mindfulness.
The study of the effect of the mind on health and resistance to disease
I heard about this term about 3 years ago in a book I read by Dr. Gabor Mate. If you don’t know who he is, Dr. Gabor Mate is a physician and internationally renowned speaker who specializes in addiction, childhood development, and the relationship of stress and illness to the body. His book, that I read, is titled: When the Body Says No – The Cost of Hidden Stress.
This term stood out in my mind. I mean, just look at the word! It took me a couple of tries to make sure I was getting the pronunciation just right.. But mostly, it gave a name to something that I had understood, but couldn’t quite explain.
Even though I had never heard the term psychoneuroimmunology before, now that I understood it, I realized I had already read a lot about it…
I love learning about the inner workings of us humans and our biology. In the past, I’d studied the placebo and nocebo effect a lot. As well as epigenetics (the study of how our behaviours and environment influence our gene expressions). Realizing, all of those were perfect examples of psychoneuroimmunology- where mindset and thoughts dictate reality.
I read many books with stories of instances where a patient’s mindset can have a direct impact on their healing process. And their likelihood to get ill again. Even instances where a particular mindset was the reason for illness in the first place.
Even within my classroom walls, I realized teaching my students to have a growth mindset was psychoneuroimmunology hard at work! Aiding kids to think in a positive mindset makes them more likely to reach their goals, AND creates happier and healthier kids!
I’d seen it all around me and learned all about it in my reading endeavors, but never really knew it had a name… until now! After naming it, I began to see patterns of psychoneuroimmunology all around me!
In my classroom, in the books I read, and even within my own family.
My sister is someone who has suffered from depression and chronic migraines almost all of her life. She has them quite regularly and was even put on a prescription medication to help her ease the pain of her migraines. It helped for a short while, but overtime, her body adjusted to the medication and she wasn’t getting results.
I started to pay more attention to her migraines. When she got them, and how often. I started to notice an interesting pattern… Her migraines always subsided when she had good days. And they flared up when she had bad days- bouts of depression or when something was causing her extra anxiety, or even when getting into arguments with someone she cared about.
It became very clear to me that her migraines were in direct correlation with her thoughts and overall mental health.
After studying psychoneuroimmunology and conducting some of my own experiments, I am even more confident that with the practice of mindfulness, we can positively influence our mental wellbeing and, in turn, achieve optimal health!
Mindfulness allows us to strengthen our mind by disassociating from our thoughts. It reminds us that, although we are full of thoughts, it doesn’t mean we ARE those thoughts. We simply have them and we can, just as simply, CHOOSE another thought. Mindfulness is about the power of choice. It brings about awareness- about ourselves, our lives and the people around us.
I see Mindfulness as exercise for the mind. Just as we would train our muscles by going to the gym, we can train our mental toughness through mindfulness.
And once again, we can benefit in so many ways from Mindfulness!
By using mindfulness to increase our mental resilience, it initiates a domino effect that translates to an abundance of other health and life improvements!
Reduced anxiety and depression
Improved immune system functioning (and other bodily systems!)
Boosts confidence, self-esteem and self-awareness
Better memory and cognitive abilities
Better physical health- increases strength and flexibility
Stronger and more positive relationships
Builds resilience – overcome adversity
Enhances mind/body connection
Increases focus and attention
Maybe you’re thinking.. Really? I can gain all of that just from the practice of Mindfulness?!
The answer is YES!
I believe that mindfulness is the key to health and wellness!
And just like the study of psychoneuroimmunology reminds us: Our thoughts and psychological processes have an impact on our overall health.
But don’t forget, mindfulness is not a ‘one and done’ activity. Mindfulness is for life. It is about practice and getting those reps of mastery in. Building a solid foundation of mindfulness to live a mindful life.
It includes building a daily practice that fits into your life, that fits your schedule.
Start off slowly, and eventually, you’ll be practicing mindfulness throughout your day, without even thinking about it!
Before you know it, you’ll be a mindfulness ninja!
Well… I can’t give you one simple answer. Because the practice of mindfulness is simple and complex all at once – we’ll save the complex stuff for another post!
Mindfulness is our natural state of being…
…before the world was filled with constant distractions and everyday stressors.
When we focus on the present moment and are mindful in everything we do, it’s like we are connecting back to our roots. Our natural state of being.
Back in the times of our ancestors, our ‘fight/flight/freeze’ mode of our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) was only activated when we were in serious danger. Dangers like being hunted or killed by larger animals.
And even then, when our ‘fight/flight/freeze’ (called our sympathetic nervous system) was triggered, we were still PRESENT. Presently focusing on removing ourselves from danger.Once the danger was removed, we were easily able to switch modes back into our parasympathetic nervous system, where our bodies and minds could ‘rest and relax.’
Nowadays, these stress triggers are everywhere. We stress all day long. About our kids, students or families. About our jobs or the pay we get. We stress over not making it to work on time while sitting in rush hour traffic. Or about how we will do on an exam.
And now with COVID we have additional stressors! We stress about sickness and the health of our friends and family. We stress about when the next shut down might happen. Or if we’ll end up losing our jobs. Or worse.. Our lives or the lives of someone we love.
Sometimes, we’ll even stress about all the bad things that could possibly happen and things that haven’t even come true yet (and most likely, won’t ever come true).
In this day and age, stressors are EVERYWHERE.
But there are 2 crucial differences about these stressors than what we’ve experienced in the past:
Our sympathetic nervous system is basically running on overdrive! When we are regularly stressed, our body is living in this constant state of fight, flight or freeze. There is no time for our parasympathetic system to kick in (our rest & relax mode) and so our body is unable to conserve the energy it needs to function properly. Our body systems are working hard to get us out of this perceived danger, which never really seems to go away… This can have serious detrimental effects for us in the long term.
The majority of these new stress triggers aren’t even happening in the present moment! They are things that are going on in our heads!! Like I said earlier, we give too much attention to the things that have not yet happened, and may not even happen. Yes, some of the things we think about are important to consider in terms of planning our lives, however, when we are non-stop thinking about our stress, it completely takes us out of the present moment. We are stuck living within our heads. Not mindful at all. And not our natural state of being.
Now, the wonderful thing about understanding all of this is that it makes us aware. Aware of the problem, so we can also be aware of the solution.
And in returning back to our natural state of being- Living and breathing mindfulness, we can reverse some of the long term effects that stress and anxiety can have on our minds and our bodies. We can extend our lives and improve our health!
Of course, it’s never too late to practice mindfulness!
But, I am an avid promoter of the “get ‘em started young” philosophy!
Why, you might ask?
Well, for one, kids are SPONGES! They are the best kind of learners because they hold onto new information quite easily. Especially if that information is engaging! And even more so, if they see the adults in their lives MODEL it well!
And second, even though it’s never too late for anyone to practice mindfulness and improve their health, when we teach mindfulness to kids, we are better able to set them up for a successful path in life. We can teach them strategies BEFORE stressful events happen and they will better know how to deal with them when the time comes.
Ever heard of the mastery rule of 10,000 hours?
Well, Michael Gladwell speaks about it in his book “Outliers.” He states that it takes 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve a level of mastery in a particular skill.
In the case of mindfulness, bringing awareness and teaching this skill to kids at a younger age, allows them to achieve this level of mastery even before they become adults.
This is why I am so ‘gung-ho’ about practicing mindfulness to kids. By practicing mindfulness throughout their younger years, living in the present moment becomes a natural part of their subconscious. They develop mastery level to this skill before their teen and adult years – some of the most stressful years of their lives.
Being a master at mindfulness before they get into those stressful years, will allow them to utilize strategies for dealing with stress in the future.
We are setting them up for success in a terribly stressful world.
Imagine a world where we can all get out of our own heads and into the present moment?
A world where we don’t have to be constantly living in fight, flight or freeze.
I believe THAT world begins with our kids.
Stay tuned for more posts on how mindfulness works and how it improves, not only our thoughts, but our overall health!
You might be wondering WHY I chose to do what I do. Why I chose the path of educator, and now, am choosing the path of a writer..
Well, part of the story might be a bit of a fluke, or maybe the universe meant for it to work out exactly the way it did. Depends on your perspective, of course, but I feel like things happen for a reason.
And so, this story is MY story nonetheless.
When I was 18, I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to do with my life. I had no ideas, no direction.
There was a lot of pressure from teachers, family, and friends for me to pick a career path, get into university, and do the ‘typical’ highschool-university-career timeline. I felt like one moment, I was just a kid, and the next moment, people were shoving me off a cliff unprepared to fly into the world of adulthood..
This left me in a real funk…
Maybe you’ve already read this in my previous posts, but I am not someone who likes to feel defeated or stay defeated. I think this part of me comes from my competitiveness that I got from playing team sports as a kid.
And so… I read books, watched documentaries, and dedicated tons of time to learn more about depression and anxiety, how it affects our biology, AND what we can do to overcome it.
I love learning! Learning is what saved me.
It was because of this knowledge, and more importantly, the practical implication of this knowledge, that I was able to get out of this serious funk and find some direction in my life.
Yes, I am aware that I’m not perfect – I still have my moments where anxiety takes over, and still have a lot of learning and self development to do, BUT awareness helped me persevere. It helped me get better.
Long story short, I managed to get out of my funk and move on with my life.
I applied as an Educational Assistant for Edmonton Public Schools- not because it was my “calling” by any means. In fact, if I’m being honest, the real reason why I applied was because my Mom was an EA, and well, I was a tad jealous of all her vacation time throughout the years…
(…I know, my motive was not ideal, but like I said, I believe everything happens for a reason!)
Shortly after applying, I got the job!
I felt blessed to be able to shape little minds and have a positive impact on little lives. But, it did open up my eyes to more sadness in the world. Kiddos whose families didn’t have enough money for lunches, kiddos being shuffled in and out of foster care, kiddos whose families weren’t supportive or not completely able to care for them in the ways they deserved. There were many kids who saw more sadness in their short lives than I ever did in my 23 years of life.
It put a lot of things into perspective for me..
In creating Mindfulness Club, I hoped my previous struggles and my lessons learned could be used for good.. to help these kids. So they didn’t have to do it all alone, like I did. So they didn’t have to feel alone, like I did.
I saw the practice of Mindfulness work wonders in my years at Sherwood Elementary, hosting my little club and through living and breathing mindfulness each moment!
But then, 2020 rolled in…
And life changed… Drastically…
For many people, the year 2020 turned worlds upside down.
For me, 2020 was a pivotal moment.
Yes, I felt the stressful effects (and still do). Like the seclusion from friends and family.. And all the time spent in my head ruminating over the question if this world was ever going to return to ‘normal’ again (I can’t even remember what normal is anymore)..
But more than ANYTHING, from this darkness, I was able to see the light.
Yes, there was suffering in the world, maybe more suffering now than the world had seen in a while, but there was also an opportunity, MY OPPORTUNITY, for growth, change and inspiration.
I spent the previous few years helping a small number of students in a very small part of the world stay mindful and care for their well-being. 2020 allowed me to think BIGGER. To help more people on a WAY BIGGER scale!
I felt like I had a lot to say and plenty of experiences to share that could help people struggling in the world. And so, I started by helping the teachers at my school.
I created a presentation about building resiliency in our students and in ourselves- through the practice of mindfulness to cultivate some coherence in our bodies and minds. I gave the presentation at a staff meeting at the beginning of October 2020.
First off, I feel like I need to mention that I’ve always had a HUGE fear of public speaking! When I was in Elementary school myself, I used to ask my mom to call in sick for me whenever I had to speak in front of the class (Shh, don’t tell my teachers!).
Never did I ever imagine that I would be WILLINGLY standing in front of a group of 20+ people giving a presentation.
But I did. And it changed me!
My presentation was a hit! Staff members were inspired to take care of themselves more. They understood the link between our thoughts and our overall health. My principal raved about my presentation and sent it to a few of his colleagues.
And well, one thing led to another… and soon, I was speaking my truth to other groups within Edmonton Public Schools… and then to other educators in Western Canada… and finally, to educators around the globe!!
Because of the shift in the world and the abundance of online opportunities after 2020, I was able to get my message out there, my experiences and lessons out to a larger population!
All I ever wanted to do was help the kiddos at my school cope. But 2020 opened my eyes to the fact that I was capable of helping so many others. Especially in such a time of need, a time of struggle.
Speaking and writing has allowed me to do just that.
I want to continue to speak my truth… To use my writing and speaking to share my experiences with those who could benefit. For those who maybe can relate. For those who just need a little bit of help and guidance.
I’m here to remind you that it’s okay to need help, and okay to ask for it.
In my last post, I explained, plain and simply, what mindfulness is.
Essentially, it is a state of being consciously aware of something… really anything! Anything that draws our focus to one particular thing in the present moment.
This could mean bringing focus to our breath or our surroundings. Using our 5 senses to analyze the things around us. Grounding us here, in the now.
Once we become better at practicing mindfulness, our subconscious will allow us to automatically become more present throughout our day. Until then, it’s important for us on a daily basis to deliberatelyschedule mindful moments in.
To train our subconscious mind.
These moments could be big or small, although I recommend beginning anything by starting small. Making it more manageable to do will improve your success and follow through rate. Plus, once you are confident in your first baby step, you can take a few bigger steps until you eventually reach your ultimate goal.
Kaizen is a Japanese word that means “Change for the better” or “Continuous Improvement.”
It is a term that involves the continual process of manageable and incremental steps in order to see improvement.
We can use the kaizen philosophy to better ourselves (and the kiddos in our lives) at being mindful. By taking small, intentional steps to reach our fullest potential. We can adjust our steps as needed. This guarantees success!
Now, there are SO many ways and opportunities to schedule mindfulness into our days!
Whether you are practicing mindfulness for yourself, or for your kiddos, or perhaps, you have an entire classroom of kids, it is EASY (and hopefully I’ve convinced you it’s possible) to find time for mindfulness.
Tips on HOW to Schedule Mindfulness into your Day:
Schedule specific times on a calendar. When you write things down, you are more likely to make it happen! It doesn’t matter if it means only deep breathing looking out the window for 30 seconds-1 minute each day. It’s still the start of something. The key is to make it INTENTIONAL. Set specific times each day to make time for YOU!
Try having a morning and evening practice. Once again, even if you can only dedicate a minute in the morning and a minute in the evening, that’s okay! Starting the day with mindfulness can set you up for success and ending it off with mindfulness helps you relax for a more peaceful evening or sleep.
Take deep breaths before beginning tasks. An easy way to sneak mindfulness in the day, whether in your personal life or in the classroom, is to begin each transition (of whatever it is you’re doing), with a deep belly breath or 2. Getting in your car to run an errand, before starting work, transitioning from one task to another (in a classroom setting, switching subjects), coming home from work or school are all great times to sneak in a few deep breaths. Deep breaths are powerful because they calm our brains and allow us to reconnect with our body and breath.
Positive affirmations and intentions: Take a quick moment in your morning to set an intention or speak out some positive affirmations for your day ahead. Could be as quick as taking a minute to say things like “I intend to be filled with gratitude today,” “I am happy and healthy,” “I will persevere today!” Really feel the power behind your statement as you make it. This could begin as a quick moment in the morning, and grow to the point where you are stating affirmations randomly throughout your day, maybe even setting intentions at night for how you’d like to feel the next morning!
Express your gratitude daily! I really do believe that gratitude is the most powerful form of self-medication! You get the most “bang for your buck” with adding in the practice of gratitude. Expressing gratitude on a consistent basis really does make us happier and healthier humans. I could go on and on about the power of gratitude, but there will be more time for that in another post… 😛
Here are some other quick & easy mindfulness practice ideas:
Going for a walk in nature
Thinking of 3 things to be grateful for each morning or night
Taking a minute to do a quick body scan and listen to your body
If you’ve been following my journey, you can probably already tell that I have a passion for promoting health & wellness through MINDFULNESS!
But… WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
Chances are, if you stumbled on this blog, you have some sort of idea what mindfulness entails. But I’m going to simplify it for you! Because there are many interpretations of what mindfulness is and isn’t.
If we look up the definition of Mindfulness it notes:
“Mindfulness is the state of being consciously aware of something”
And quite literally, anything! It is focusing on one particular thing, whether that’s our breath or a part of our surroundings. Focusing on that one thing brings us into the present moment.
Yes, we can schedule certain mindfulness practices into our day, but we can also live each moment with a mindfulness mind set. Completing our daily tasks and going through daily events, mindfully!
We can eat mindfully by eliminating distractions. That means no watching TV or scrolling through our phones while we are trying to eat. Focusing solely on our food and enjoying it with all 5 of our senses.
We can go for a walk or a drive mindfully! By tuning out any conversations and focusing on the sights and sounds around you! Even the smells, if you are outside in nature.
We can even have mindful conversations. Putting our phones away, turning off music, and focusing solely on our heartfelt conversation. Active listening is a wonderful way to have a mindful conversation.
We can even do our work with mindfulness in mind. By breaking down our day and focusing on one aspect of the day at a time. Being fully present in whatever your task is.
Are you a Multi-Tasker?
Multitasking is not a mindful activity. Our minds are constantly flipping between tasks and we are most definitely unable to focus our attention on one item! Not to mention, multi-tasking is not productive (unless you are of course the 1% exception to this rule or a computer), often taking a lot longer to complete all of your to-do’s and getting them done without paying attention to the details.
Multi-tasking tends to lead us to our MONKEY MIND.
“Monkey mind” is a buddhist term that refers to being unsettled, distracted, restless, even confused. It is the OPPOSITE of true mindfulness.
Our goal is to calm and settle our monkey mind in order to live truly mindful lives.
So yes, mindfulness can be practiced at any time throughout your day. You can practice it anywhere, and with just about any activity (unless you’re combining activities, of course)!
The key is AWARENESS! Being aware of your thoughts and your monkey mind. Being able to pause and say:
“Okay, I’m thinking about the past or future right now, when I should really be focused on the present.”
Awareness can be challenging, but it can also be TRAINED. You can get better at becoming more self-aware. All it takes is a little bit of practice and some deliberate scheduling of mindfulness into your day.
I highly recommend training your awareness by purposefully adding mindful moments into your day, whether that is with mindful breathing, mindful eating, practicing gratitude, yoga, etc. The important thing is to find what works best for you.
By intently adding it into your day, you are settling your monkey mind, and training your brain to think in the present moment, all the time!
Read my follow up post for more ideas on HOW to schedule mindfulness into your day!